There’s a best-kept secret in the Bay Area: Oakland’s overlooked but incredibly delicious and affordable dining scene. Foodies who are in the know make this sparkling city by the Bay a priority when they’re in the area with an appetite. While everyone else heads to the ritzy — and expensive — restaurants in San Francisco, smart locals and visitors make the rounds of Oaktown’s drool-worthy food trucks.
Want to know about the best of the best? We’ve got the 411 for you right here.
Off the Grid
Haven’t heard of Off the Grid? That’s because it’s pretty new, especially to Oakland. It’s a huge mobile marketplace with vendors that change periodically. This isn’t just a food truck. It’s a food-truck-a-palooza that takes over Lake Merritt every Friday evening. We’re talking live music, dance lessons, kid-friendly activities, and — of course — tons of food trucks. Past hits include:
An the Go Vietnamese
Happy Dumplings Chinese
Ceviche & Co.
Do you like pupusas? If so, you need to check out this mobile “pupuseria” serving up some of the Bay Area’s finest Salvadoran food. The owners — two sisters who grew up in Salvador and moved to Canada with their families — brought their culture and cuisine with them. Now they’re sharing it from their El Sabrosito food truck in Oakland, where they serve up gluten-free pupusas — think veggie, chicharron, and chicken just for starters — along with carne asada and other specialties.
If the craving for organic, superfood-filled smoothies hits, then this is the food truck to find. Smoothie Operator serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, all with a focus on organic, non-GMO healthy menu items. Local favorites include:
Ultra Mega smoothie with spinach, kale, avocado, carrot, maca, hemp seeds, and apple cider vinegar
Berryable Blast smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, banana, acai, pomegranate powder, and lucuma — all blended with coconut milk
Hummus Among Us toast, which features hummus, avocado, spinach, sprouts, hemp seeds, olive oil, and cucumber
Hip, cool, fresh Mexican food is what you can expect from this food truck. It’s run by Chef Alberto Avramow Pitman, who grew up in Mexico City and specializes in fusion cuisine that combines Mexican and Peruvian flavors. Some of the standout dishes include tasty bites like caprese salad made with grilled cactus, mozzarella emulsion, cherry tomatoes, and basil dust. Other menu items like the Oxtail Ravioli served in a mole sauce, Ceviche Bowls, and some of the best Carnitas in Oakland make this a favorite.
This Mediterranean food truck draws big crowds in downtown Oakland. Known for offering Egyptian-inspired flavors with a hint of a New York style wraps, they make everything to order and use top-notch ingredients. In addition to gyros, pasta plates, and chicken wraps, they serve their signature item, the Shrimp Falafel, in a warm pita topped with tzatziki for a mouthwatering take on the traditional falafel.
Sometimes nothing but a delicious and authentic taco plate or filled-to-the-brim burrito will do. If you’re looking for the best taco truck in Oakland, look no further than El Grullo. This tempting and locally-cherished food truck dishes Mexican street food specialties like awesome tacos, flavorful tortas, and must-try carnitas quesadillas that are too good to miss. Need more proof that this taco truck serves up real-deal food? The late food aficionado Anthony Bourdain once stopped by to grab some grub.
Which Oakland food trucks are you most excited to sample? Share your ideas with us and find more travel-planning inspiration on our Facebook page.